Vulnerability is real

21 January 2020

Christmas has come and gone, and we are into a New Year and a new decade. For many, seasonal festivals are a time for family, celebration and togetherness. This is not the case for all, and for others these points in the diary are times of additional angst, frustration and loneliness. The causes of each emotion are as individual as the person themselves, and I am sure make sense to each person.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) Cost of Living Alone report 04 April 2019 confirms:

'The number of people living on their own went up by 16% to 7.7 million between 1997 and 2017, while the UK population increased by only 13%. By 2039, the number of one-person households is projected to rise to 10.7 million.

The rise in the number of people living alone is largely concentrated in older age groups. While the number of people aged 25 to 44 living alone has fallen by 16% between 1997 and 2017, the number of 45- to 64-year-olds living on their own has increased by 53% over the same period.

This increase is partly due to the large number of children born in the 1960s reaching this age but may also be down to a change in our relationships: more people in this age group are divorced or single than there were 15 years ago.'

Time may not be the great healer that was once suggested, and age can also be a thief in the night in making a once able and capable individual vulnerable. We have worked with hundreds of individual clients for over a decade and it can be challenging to spot the signs that the person you welcomed all those years ago has moved to a different point in their lives where their vulnerability is apparent.

As a Financial Planner, we would as a matter of course anticipate that a client would make a Will, and over the age of 60, we would normally recommend that they establish Power of Attorney arrangements in good time and just in case. Going further, we also want to know where these documents are held and in addition, whether a client has family/friends they trust who also know where these documents are held and (with their permission), their details which we hold on file, noting that if anything goes wrong, it is likely to be them that will make contact. We also ask the client to pass on our details to this contact for their records or leave our details with the Will and Attorney documents.

In principle, these points may seem to some obvious, but as we all age, particularly noting the statistics above for those living alone, the reality and experience of having to help in the event of death or loss of capacity comes to the fore. Taking steps to ensure correct service to a client who is vulnerable is vital and we have a Vulnerability process within our systems to ensure that clients are cared for correctly.

None of us knows how our health will evolve in the future. We can take steps to be fitter, healthier and take good medical advice. However, life always was in a way a lottery when it comes to health, wellbeing and capacity. Whatever you do, make sure you are ready for your future.

No individual advice is provided during the course of this blog.

Keith Churchouse FPFS

Director

CFP Chartered FCSI

Chartered Financial Planner

Chapters Financial Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, number 402899.